SUCCOTH (Heb. סֻכּוֹת; "booths"), name of two places mentioned in the Bible.

(1) A locality in the Jordan Valley; according to the etiological explanation in Genesis 33:17, it was named after the booths for cattle erected there by Jacob. It belonged to the kingdom of Sihon, from whom it passed to the tribe of Gad (Josh. 13:27). The city refused to aid Gideon in his pursuit of the Midianites and was consequently punished when he returned victorious; in this narrative it is also related that the city had 77 elders and there was apparently a high standard of literacy among its inhabitants (Judg. 8). It is mentioned with Zarethan as the metallurgic center where the brass vessels of the Temple were cast (I Kings 7:46; II Chron. 4:17, as Zeredah). According to Yadin, Succoth should be read in place of "booths" in II Samuel 1:11 and I Kings 20:12, 16. In his view, it served as David's secondary strategic center during his assault on Rabbath-Ammon and on the *Arameans; hence the reference to it in the Victory Psalm (Ps. 60:8; 108:8). Also according to Yadin's reading, it served as a base for *Ben-Hadad during his unsuccessful assault on Samaria. Succoth is identified in the Talmud (TJ, Shev. 9:2, 38d) with Ter'ela, the present-day Tell Deir ʿ Allā to the north of the junction of the Jabbok and the Jordan. Excavations carried out at the site by a Dutch expedition under H.J. Franken revealed a settlement dating from about the 15th century B.C.E. to the period of the monarchy. A Late Bronze Age sanctuary discovered there was destroyed in the early 12th century, as dated by an Egyptian cartouche of the late 19th Dynasty. Unique and still undeciphered clay tablets were found in this level. In the levels of the Israelite period, traces of metallurgic industries were found, in accordance with biblical tradition.

(2) The second station of the Israelites, located between Rameses and Etham, on the route of the Exodus (Ex. 12:37; 13:20; Num. 33:5, 6). In Egyptian texts the name occurs as t-k-w. The favored identification is with Tell Maskhūṭa, a border fortress in the eastern part of Wadi Ṭumaylāt (the biblical land of Goshen, west of the Bitter Lakes).


N. Glueck, in: AASOR, 25–28 (1951), 308–10, 347ff.; Y. Yadin, The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands, 2 (1963), 271–2, 305–8; Aharoni, Land, index; E.G. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 104, 106; Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 469–70.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.